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Read the latest news and trends on home building with Generation Homes Waikato North and Hamilton

Thinking smaller and smarter

30 May 2016

Quality, functionality and design are taking over from square-footage as more New Zealanders opt to build smaller homes. Housing affordability, increasing concern for the environment and an effort to reduce energy costs are said to be behind the new ‘less is more’ philosophy – which is leading to some impressive results.

After many years of house sizes trending upwards, the residential home building industry is starting to witness an increasing demand for smaller houses in New Zealand.

According to an industry report, the average Auckland home for sale in 2013 was 158-square metres. By 2015 this had reduced to 114 square metres.

While these figures are influenced by the number of apartments being built, Generation Homes chief executive Kevin Atkinson says the strong property market is forcing many people to re-think their priorities when it comes to housing. For many people the dream of owning a quarter-acre section are gone – but with that also comes new opportunities.

“People are now looking at ways to build a really smart, yet smaller home to meet the needs of their family,” says Kevin.

Home buyers have come to realise that reducing the overall footprint doesn’t mean compromising on style or functionality – in many ways the result is a more efficient and stylish home as people have had to be a bit savvier with their design.

The Government’s KiwiSaver HomeStart grant is certainly encouraging new builds. Even though house price caps recently increased across New Zealand, the scheme dictates smaller homes.

Retirees and empty-nesters are also choosing to downsize, saying goodbye to the large family home and moving to something more efficient and easy to maintain.

“Many retirees want to retain independence and building a smaller property on a smaller section doesn’t have the ongoing costs associated with a retirement village or over 60’s establishment,” says Kevin.

Generation Homes offers a range of smaller house plans that enable people to realise their dreams of home ownership without compromising on style.

The three-bedroom ‘Banksia’ plan is a modest 139 square metres and features open-plan living, a semi-ensuite and double garage.

The two-bedroomed ‘Earheart’ and ‘Sunrise’ plans are 126 and 117 square metres respectively, compact but clever in their design and layout.

The benefit of all Generation Homes plans is their adaptability.  No matter how big, or small, the end result is configured to the customer’s individual needs and lifestyle.

Creating multi-functional rooms and giving the illusion of space is a key factor when building a small home, says Kevin.

“The semi-ensuite is a great example of having the best of both worlds. It serves as a main bathroom and also an ensuite through the use of two doors, one of which links to the bedroom.”

Limiting hallways to create larger living spaces is a popular variation in Generation’s small home builds as it plays into current open plan design trends.



House price caps increased in:

  • Auckland – from $485,000 to $550,000
  • Wellington & Queenstown – from $425,000 to $450,000
  • Christchurch & Selwyn District – from $400,000 to $450,000
  • Hamilton, Tauranga, Western Bay of Plenty, Hutt City, Porirua, Tasman, Nelson & Waimakariri – from $350,000 to $450,000
  • Upper Hutt & Kapiti Coast – from $300,000 to $450,000
  • All other areas – from $300,000 to $350,000

Sourced from Housing New Zealand. Correct as at 1 April 2016.